The first drug approved for use in the fight against male pattern baldness was Minoxidil.
Minoxidil was clinically tested and proven to thwart an increase in hair loss. It was even shown to increase growth of hair, in some instances. However, many of the experts in the field of hair loss don’t view it as a strong opponent in the cause. They base their opinion on the fact that it does nothing to prevent the hormonal processes that result in hair loss. Instead, the results it provides are short lived and quite often, lead to disappointment.
It is still a recommended choice for many men that had not been able to achieve results from finasteride treatment due to side effects, contraindications, or other issues. It is also a great choice for those who are looking to complement their current therapy with an additional product. While it is not suggested as the primary solution to a hair loss problem, most experts do acknowledge that it can be effective for a minor percentage of men experiencing male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil came into play in the hair loss game when it was discovered that its use as an oral drug taken to combat high blood pressure was resulting in an unexpected side effect. The drug caused body hair to grow thicker and darker in places where it was normally fine and sparse. When people taking the drug discontinued its use, the hair growth subsided and reverted to its normal state with a month or two.
Using this data, Rogaine was born. Eventually, the liquid form of Rogaine lead to Rogaine Foam, a 5% minoxidil formula that is foam-based. In March 2012, a new company began shipping a generic brand of Rogaine Foam called Minoxidil 5% Foam to retailers all over the country. The two treatments have similar results, but the generic foam is less than half the cost of its predecessor under the Rogaine name.
Minoxidil is usually not as effective on large areas of hair loss. It is also shown in studies that it seems to be far more effective in younger men who have experienced less than five years of hair loss.
Minoxidil is what is called a vasodilator. Its effectiveness is believed to be at least partially attributed to the fact that vasodilators widen blood vessels and open potassium channels, paving the way for oxygen, blood and nutrients to reach the hair follicles in dire need of them. While this will cause existing follicles to be shed, it stimulates the follicle into producing newer, thicker hair growth.
As with many drugs and solutions, minoxidil is not without side effects. It can cause burning, irritated eyes, irritation to the treated area, and hair growth in undesirable locations. More severe side effects can include allergic reactions and irregular heart rhythms, to name only a couple. Since the preparation can contain alcohol and glycol mixtures, it can cause dandruff or some contact rashes. If this is the case, there are other formulations that utilize lipid nanosomes in order to neutralize these effects.
Do not be surprised that when you begin to use a minoxidil product, you begin to lose more hair. It is commonly noted that this is a shedding phase that is followed by hair regrowth. It is sort of an “out with the old and in with the new” premise. However, there is no guarantee that you will experience new hair growth as a result of use.
If you choose to begin use of minoxidil products, you will need to plan to apply it one or two times daily. It will need to be used indefinitely to promote the continued cycle of shedding and regrowth it promotes. Keep in mind that the product should remain on the scalp for a minimum of four hours before getting the scalp wet, so you will need to time its application in a manner that won’t interfere with showers or water based activities.